Today, the mobile phone is not just a device with functionality but is also a fashion accessory. We see many boys and girls who decorate their handsets with stickers, cover cases and beeds. Besides the device’s physical appearance, people also customize their wallpaper (main display on handset) with their favorite pictures. That same trend can be found in Japan, but in a more advanced stage: Japanese people once desired to personalize all interfaces in their handset, including SMS sending/receiving screens, outgoing/incoming call screens, menu interfaces and so forth. This desire gave birth to what is now called “Kisekae”.

1. What’s Kisekae?

Kisekae literally means “change what is being worn to something else” in Japanese (i.e. the Barbie doll is called “Kisekae” doll in Japan), though for our purposes the common software application term of “skin” may be appropriate, as in “change the skin (interface appearance) to another”. With the Kisekae tool provided by mobile operators, third parties can develop content for all handset interfaces with images and Flash Lite files and provide it as a package, and consumers can change all interfaces simply by installing it with a single click (NTT Docomo has a introduction to its Kisekae tool in English on its website).

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